Dreamfly (追梦空天科技), a domestic drone and eVTOL startup, has announced the completion of a seed round of funding valued at tens of millions of yuan, led by Tengye Ventures, with participation from Shui Mu Qing Hua Alum Seed Fund.
Proceeds from this fundraiser will be go toward R&D on the Suzhou-based company’s tonnage hybrid tiltrotor drone and five-seat passenger air taxi.
In recent years, eVTOL has emerged as a new solution to urban congestion, with the promise of complementing an urban air mobility (UAM) system.
Unlike traditional aviation, eVTOL vehicles possess distributed propellers, which helped overcome bottlenecks faced by conventional airplanes and helicopters in daily operation, said Cai Wenkuan, co-founder and CEO of Dreamfly.
A Tsinghua University alumnus who set up the firm in 2022, he added eVTOL also has huge potential thanks to its room for scale-up and low costs.
According to Cai, eVTOL can weave together a distributed, end-to-end UAM network that integrates into urban life.
“This could resolve realistic pain points like urban traffic congestion as well as push the boundaries of cities and lifestyles.”
Data from Grand View Research, a market consultancy, indicates that in the next five years, the eVTOL space is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46.2%.
In addition, Morgan Stanley released a report previously, projecting the UAM market worldwide to hit US$1 trillion by 2040 and US$9 trillion by 2050.
eVTOL as a key form of aerial vehicles will occupy a prominent position in this market.
Currently, Cai is leading his team to develop what he said is the country’s first tonnage hybrid tiltrotor drone.
The product is said to possess advantages such as vertical take-off and landing, high speed and long endurance.
These attributes allow it to be applied in logistics, emergency management, inspection and mapping and for other ad hoc use purposes.
The firm claims to have completed a series of steps involving tiltrotor and hovering flight of a prototype on a reduced scale, and designs of an engineering prototype.
The engineering prototype is forecast to hit the skies toward the end of 2023 and slated for mass production in 2025.
From eVTOL laggard to leader in electrified aviation
Apart from drones, Dreamfly will also introduce a five-seat passenger eVTOL air taxi, or flying car, to provide urban mobility services.
“We will supply safe, economical, comfortable and convenient solutions to realize mass-market urban air mobility,” Cai of Dreamfly said.
Although China is a latecomer in the eVTOL segment and lags behind Western countries in tehnical expertise, talent pool, financing support and aviation culture, Cai notes that domestic companies still have an opportunity to emerge from behind and make it to the top of the heap.
“We beliee eVTOL will become another trillion-dollar market after smartphone and EV,” he observed. “China has a solid industrial foundation and talent pool in this realm, where world-class companies are bound to arise.”
Dreamfly’s core team has rare experience in the aviation industry, from frontline work all the way to senior leadership, from R&D to management, Yang Yaowei, a partner at Tengye Ventures, told media.
He added the firm’s tech innovations, R&D and market abilities will definitely make it a leader in the eVTOL race and electrification of the aviation industry.